Alex Davis insists England are ignoring the external noise around the future of sevens rugby after the men’s team saw their Commonwealth Games medal hopes go up in smoke.
The bronze medallists from Gold Coast 2018 were knocked out of the hunt for the podium in the group stage, with a 20-0 defeat to New Zealand following a 34-0 loss to Samoa in their opener.
Those results come off the back of the decision from England, Scotland and Wales to combine again to form Great Britain men’s and women’s teams for the 2023 World Sevens Series.
But for Davis, who was born in Gloucester and raised in Bristol, England’s only focus is on securing the best possible finish at Birmingham 2022 after responding to the New Zealand defeat with an improved 45-7 victory over Jamaica in the evening session on day two of the Games.
He said: “There’s obviously always a lot of external noise around our programme and around rugby sevens as a sport but we’ve just tried to nail down and focus on what we can control.
“That’s our performance on the pitch, our analysis off the pitch, sticking together, our values and our bigger values of cultivating greatness, it’s obviously not visible to people not in our camp.
“When times are hard we stick together and we’re not far away. The scoreboard reflects some of the outcomes differently but I feel like we are super close to some of these teams.
“The Samoa result wasn’t ideal but we’ve run them close recently and it’s just about clicking at the right time altogether but that’s a reflection of where we are as a young side.”
The home nation sides previously came together under the GB banner in 2021 amid funding cuts in preparation for the Tokyo Olympic Games, after England players lost their central contracts in August 2020 because of the financial impact of the Covid pandemic.
But while some players have expressed doubt about the impact such a move would have this time around, Team England captain Davis backed the renewed merger of the unions.
“It’s a big step up and I think it’s great for the home nations and for the growth of British sevens, with the Olympics being the pinnacle of the sport now. I think it’s the right thing,” said Davis.
“It’s tough but you can only control what you can control. Obviously, those decisions are made by people other than us and we’re just trying to make the most of the position we’re in.
“If that means we go into tournaments with eight contracted players then we’ll do that and we’ll bring guys in but the buy-in from everyone here has been outstanding.
“We’d love to have more contracts but that’s the reality. The boys have been great, I couldn’t ask for anymore. It’s always tough on a big occasion representing your home nation.”
Team England’s men have 12 Commonwealth Games debutants among their ranks and Davis was impressed with the way they acquitted themselves against reigning champions New Zealand.
“Obviously we’re disappointed to lose but I definitely think we did what we wanted to do and which was to make New Zealand work, we knew they were a really great side,” he said.
“You have to make them work for their scores and we just wanted to stay in the fight, moment to moment and I think we did that. Losing two games out of the three (in the group stage) isn’t ideal especially in your home tournament.
“But we spoke about it last night, yesterday we had 12 Commonwealth Games debuts which for us is a huge achievement and something that we are really proud of.
“We would obviously like to be in the knockout quarter-finals but we’re not and now we just have to maximise the opportunities that we’ve got left and learn from what we can.”
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